The New York Times puzzle by Joe Krozel offers a trio of CRANEs—the long-necked LARGE WADING BIRD, STRETCH ONE'S NECK, and NOVELIST STEPHEN Crane. Fill highlights: Cary Grant, the male WAR BRIDE; PLOTZ ([Faint, in slang]); GINNIE MAE ([Federally guaranteed security]); PRENUP; and the [Oscar-winning song from "A Star Is Born"], EVERGREEN. Oddball clues: [A good breakfast, but a bad supper, according to Francis Bacon] for HOPE; ["Donald's Cousin ___" (1939 Disney cartoon)] for GUS. Clues I liked: [Skates on thin ice, e.g.] for DARES; [Back] for FINANCE; [Start of many a story] for DATELINE. Crosswordese on the march: OLIO, ANIS ([Black cuckoos]!), ERNE ([Marine eagle]!), APSE.
The "Themeless Thursday" puzzle in the New York Sun is by David Kahn. There's a mini-theme, two 15-letter French thespians who were in Loulou (whatever that is). Does anyone like GERARD DEPARDIEU? His head is ginormous. Strangest-looking fill: GOONAJAG. That parses to a four-word phrase, GO ON A JAG, but I like to think of it as one word. Favorite clues: [Causes to list] for SLANTS (I like that third listed list); [1962 movie whose title means "danger" in Swahili] for HATARI (Have we seen this trivia in a clue before? How did I know the answer?); Harry [Potter, e.g.] for TEENAGER; ["The Unparalleled Adventure of One ___ Pfaall" (Edgar Allan Poe short story)] for HANS (not a story I'd heard of of before, so I read it online tonight—if you read it and you're feeling bogged down, skip to the end); [Back in California, perhaps] for a RAIDER in the NFL; [1976 title role for Raquel Welch] for JUGS (the movie was Mother, Jugs & Speed); [High cry?] for "LAND HO!"; [Turkey part] for ASIA MINOR; and [It's parked under Wayne Manor] for BATMOBILE (you know, part of this summer's Batman sequel was filmed right here in my neighborhood—gotta see the movie!).
Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword includes seven theme entries, BOARD plus six compound words or two-word phrases in which both components can precede BOARD to generate a dozen other phrases or compound words. For example, IRONING OUT splits out for an ironing board and the word outboard. I'm not wild about the theme although it's technically adept—this sort of theme tends not to set off the amusement receptors in my brain. BLACKHEAD (blackboard, headboard) is pretty gross fill, and it reminds me of this evocative zit-squeezing video (no, really). I like the corners of 9-letter entries (two fill alongside one theme). There are a couple mystery Russian names: [Nordic skier Smetanina, first woman to win 10 Winter Olympic medals) for RAISA (she's not Nordic—she just does Nordic skiing) and [1970s to '90s Russian cosmonaut Vladimir] TITOV. I also had no idea that ELDON was the [Iowa city where Grant Wood's "American Gothic" house is located]. Can you be a city with fewer than 1,000 residents?
Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Petite Four," has four theme entries that begin with the synonyms SLIM, THIN, NARROW, and SLIGHT. More than that, I cannot say—I have an appointment in 30 minutes and I haven't taken a shower yet. Gotta run!
March 27, 2008